Blue Raiders looking forward to Tuesday night football

ESPN2, Blackout Night to highlight MT-FAU game

September 23, 2008 · Athletic Communications

Head Coach Rick Stockstill
Review of Arkansas State game:
"We got beat by a team that played better than we did. We had some chances to put some points on the board early and we didn't finish the drives. If we could have done that then maybe we could have made it more of a competitive game. Going in I thought we had to stop the run and we did a pretty good job of that but we were not very good on third down getting off the field and we gave up too many big pass plays. Offensively, we turned the ball over a couple times and we could not establish the run. They were better than us in the passing game and they gave themselves a better chance in third-down situations and that was the difference. We just got beat by a better team."

Talk about the ineffectiveness of the running game to this point. "It is no secret. We have struggled in all four games in the running game and it has to get better. There are a lot of contributing circumstances and hopefully some of that will turn and it will help us down the road. It is not scheme-wise or talent. We are doing the right things, but we have to do them better."

Press Conference
The FAU game is a Tuesday game. Why is it important to play these type of games during the week? "It is not often you are going to get the ACC, SEC, those type conferences, to play on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. Look at the history with the TV games and it's usually the up and coming conferences doing it. I think it's a great opportunity and the whole world is watching. If they want to watch a college game then they have to watch us. It helps in recruiting; it helps showcase your program and University on a national scale. I understand why we do it and I have no problem with that. I wish we could play as many times as possible on ESPN."

How does this FAU team compare to the FAU team that won the league in 2007? "They started 0-4 last year and they are 1-3 now. They have the same players. It is a good team with a very talented group of guys. They got beat my Texas but so do a lot of people. They have played a tough schedule so you can't really look at their record but their record is better right now than it was a year ago at this time. Arkansas State, Troy and Florida Atlantic are very good football teams."

Talk about FAU quarterback Rusty Smith. "Rusty Smith is an excellent quarterback. He does a great of getting the ball out of his hand and he does not take a lot of sacks. He is very accurate with the ball. He appears to have an arm where he can make all the throws. He has a good touch on the short balls and he has a knack for throwing the deep ball with accuracy. He has good feet where he moves and slides in the pocket to avoid sacks and find lanes in the passing game."

With two Sun Belt losses do you think you still have a chance to win the league? "I don't think we are out of it. Obviously we need some help. Anytime you have two conference losses you are going to need some help. We are the only team that has played two conference games so there is a lot left on the table with teams playing one another. We have to take care of ourselves and our responsibility. I do know this, if we lose this game we are out of the conference championship race. There is still a lot to play for and we have to control what we can control. We are still trying to get bowl eligible."

You have had players play more than 100 snaps the last two weeks (Maryland, Kentucky). Are there any ways to get other people on the field for special teams or is it a numbers situation? "We did not have anyone go over 100 snaps this week because there were not that many plays run. What we are is what we are. We don't have a lot of bodies to choose from right now. I've always said we are going to play the best players on special teams until someone can beat them out and right now some of our best players are also our best special teams players. We don't have the luxury of subbing those guys out."

LB Danny Carmichael
Does it wear on you being on the field for all defensive and special teams plays?
"Not really. It can wear on you toward the end but that's why you have to be sure and be in great shape. You have to have your best players on special teams and I enjoy doing that."

Arkansas State was able to convert third downs to keep drives alive. How much of an impact did it have on the game? "I think the game could have been much different. We gave up short-yardage on first and second downs but they continually had big third-down conversions. We just couldn't get off the field. They made big play after big play."

Your thoughts on Rusty Smith? "He is a good quarterback. He had an outstanding year last year with one of the top efficiency rating in the country. He is a very good quarterback."

QB Joe Craddock
What does it mean to you as a fifth-year senior to be playing this national television game on your campus as opposed to playing elsewhere?
"Definitely means a lot. The only "home game" we had on national TV was against Louisville at LP Field (in Nashville) but that really doesn't count since it was not here on campus. It's going to be a great thing for our program and for this University. We are excited about the opportunity."

Do you feel you are more ahead of last year when you made your first start against Florida Atlantic? "I'm looking forward to this year. I am more experienced and I have more knowledge of the offense. It was a little different last year because it was my first start and it was against the best team in the conference."

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